Not long ago MacGyver was telling some friends at work “our story.” Apparently they found it compelling enough that MacGyver came home and suggested that I write a blog about it. In thinking about sharing our story many thoughts came to mind. For some reason it feels comparable to New Mom groups and women sharing their birthing stories… so here goes, I will birth the story of our relationship.
Long ago, I had been living with my boyfriend for a little over a year, when his parents decided to come for a visit. It was the first time they had come to see us since I had moved into his house. His house had been full of student furniture, odds and ends from previous house-mates, and there wasn’t a speck of hominess to it. Over the course of two weeks I decided to pull the house together. I’m not talking throw cushions, curtains, and hand towels. No! I’m talking stripping wallpaper, painting, new flooring, and furniture. (Okay, there were throw cushions, curtains, hand towels and some new art thrown in just for fun).
At the time, where our current Sleep Country USA exists, stood a lonely DIY store. After getting all the other projects completed I took on the last one! The kitchen floor. I purchased the needed supplies for the flooring project which included, a trowel, adhesive, sheet linoleum (still cool then), and a roller of sorts. On a bright and sunny Thursday morning I took the trowel in one hand, the adhesive in the other and followed the employees’ instructions and proceeded to “butter the floor.” I then wrestled the linoleum into the kitchen, not having pre-fitted it, and proceeded to lay it out and get to cutting.
To make an extraordinarily long story short I was down to my knickers (having lost clothing to adhesive and the countertop) when I gave up all hope, called my boyfriend and told him I needed his help. He hoofed it home, took one look at me, obeyed my instructions to strip down, and we got to the business at hand. He read the directions on the adhesive can. It turns out that you are supposed to only leave trace amounts of adhesive behind. So we spent a whole lot of time removing the extra adhesive and my listening to him lecturing me on the finer points of reading directions. Many hours later the floor was done, I had thrown my work clothes away, the boyfriend had been washed down with paint thinner (it turns out adhesive sticks really well to body hair), and we were exhausted.
The next day the parents were due to arrive late in the evening. So, I spent the whole day cleaning, fluffing, and airing out our very stinky house. At some point my boyfriend called to find out if I was ready to have the fridge moved back into the kitchen. Since the fridge was huge and the floor had yet to dry, this was going to be tricky, as the fridge couldn’t be rolled, it had to be lifted.
Smelly from not having showered for a few days, adhesive still splotched all over me, my long greasy hair tucked up inside a baseball cap, I answered the door when the bell rang. I opened it, and came face to face with MacGyver.
Now, I have freely admitted to having read a Romance Novel or two, so what I’m about to relate may seem a little over the top, but I swear every last word is true.
I looked at MacGyver and thought, “Oh Shit! Here’s my future.” I was completely and immediately smitten and I was living with someone else whose parents were about to come for a visit. Fortunately I wasn’t anything to look at and a whole bunch of my boyfriend’s other friends showed up at that moment to help lift the fridge. Phew, I dodged that bullet.
A week or so later my boyfriend wanted to invite a new guy home for dinner, to say thanks for helping move the fridge. I knew who it was; shamelessly I fluffed, spritzed, polished, and groomed every inch of me, knowing that my commitment to what’s-his-name was at an end. I was flustered, giddy, and euphoric and then I was crushed. MacGyver announced he’d just married a few months before.One minute I was sitting at the table trying to figure out how to break up with what’s-his-name and the next I was watching my Cinderella story blow up inside my head. I spent the rest of the night feeling sad, resigned, and jealous.
MacGyver’s wife was finishing her degree in another city, so when she was in town my jealousy reared its ugly head when MacGyver would open her car door, or invite us over just to try her banana bread, or show me photos she’d sent. He was in love and I was in hell. When she was gone I used to do the laundry at his place (we didn’t have a washer/dryer) and we spent hours chatting. It was a bit masochistic. The more I came to know him the more I liked him. When “she” finally moved to town on a permanent basis, I made myself scarce.
Perhaps I’m not painting a very good picture of myself, so I need to interject here. I was committed to making my relationship work. I did in fact love my boyfriend. I constantly reminded myself that I had been convinced he was the one before Mac came on the scene. We had a house, travelled, and stayed together for seven years. In none of that time did anything other than my eye stray. I convinced myself that what I felt for Mac was just a passing crush, a physical attraction, and that it would go away with time. So for almost one year I deliberately avoided seeing MacGyver.
Alas, I ran into them at Safeway. I had seen them from a distance and had deliberately pushed my cart in the other direction. Unfortunately we both needed cheese. So there I was, alone with my groceries, when I came face to face with the happy couple. They matched so well, in looks, intelligence, temperament, and they were together. AND they had just purchased a house AND he was willing to grocery shop just to be with her. A lot of salt on very big wound is how it felt.
Another year or so passed, during which time I became loosely engaged to my boyfriend. I use the word loosely because it was more of a “either you ask me or I’m leaving” type of situation. No grand gestures of love, or any desire to share the information with family and friends, and we were in couples therapy. Does that sound like “happily ever after?”
Moments after the sham proposal occurred came the most amazing news, Mac was getting divorced. I kid you not. Another Romance Novel moment, but true; I had become someone’s Ball and Chain just as Mac lost his. What did I do? Well, by then I was so committed to making my relationship work that I stayed put and watched MacGyver date all kinds of women.
It was a painful and torturous year or two, but I supported his endeavors to find love. (In the blog, “My Girlfriend loves… (11/30/10) I mention my helping Mac date a mutual friend). At this point my boyfriend/fiancé and I began what would later become known as “the longest break-up of all time.” It needed to be done, but was messy, complicated, and no one wanted to be the bad guy/girl. I don’t even remember telling more than a handful of people. I certainly didn’t tell MacGyver because that would have just complicated things even more.
Fortunately I had long since left Microsoft and was buried in my studies at the UW. Fleeing MacGyver’s love life and to drive the final nail into the death of my relationship I decided to participate in a Study Abroad program. A few days before leaving the country I invited a bunch of friends to have dinner. Mac was one of the invitees. I fluffed, spruced, shaved, and used my last few dollars to buy something girly and fun. After everyone was settled in at the tables at the restaurant I asked a friend where Mac was. He said, “Oh, he isn’t coming. He’s busy falling in love with someone.” Well, I was crushed, what more can I say. Again, just like a Romance Novel our timing was impeccably off, but only I knew it.
The next night (the night before I left) mutual friends of Mac and I invited us to dinner. I re-fluffed, shaved again, and steeled myself to hear all about his new love. Then the inconceivable happened. He showed up alone. Then another inconceivable thing happened… he offered to come to Europe and travel with me.
So off I fled to Europe more confused than ever. I decided to do what any sane thirty year old who is participating in a student exchange program would do. I immersed myself in the experience; travelled, studied, pub crawled, and had a fling with a twenty two year old. Now don’t judge me. The twenty two year old didn’t want a relationship and was a happy boy. In all that time I suppressed all urges to e-mail or call Mac. I just couldn’t leave my euphoric world to be grounded in the agony of his love story.
Upon returning I lasted all of two days before calling his office. He had quit! What did that mean? Where was he? Had he moved? I called the friends who had had us over for dinner the night before I left and subtly asked how they were, how life was, and where was Mac. Okay, maybe I wasn’t so subtle because they offered to have Mac and I over for dinner the next night. Yippee!! I set about trying to find something to wear when the phone rang announcing that Mac was out of town. I was both disappointed and relieved because I wanted to see him, but was terrified to find out the state of his love life.
A few days later Mac called me. “Did you want to have dinner?”
“I thought you were out of town.”
“I was, but am driving home from the airport.”
“When do you want to have dinner?”
My brain overloaded… I wasn’t fluffed, spritzed, shaved, or mentally prepared.” Yes!”
To my delight I found out that Mac and what’s her name had split up just after I left for England. So after a few dinners strictly as friends I worked up the nerve to kiss him quickly. He didn’t respond, didn’t say anything, just smiled and waved good-bye. My brain was all over the place and I berated myself for crossing that line! I had revealed myself and he wasn’t interested. Where are twenty two year old boys when you need them??
So, we have a few more dinners (where he didn’t try to kiss me and I sure wasn’t going to kiss him again), while I tried to regain some dignity by saying things like, “I’m not interested in having a relationship after having just finished with what’s his name.” My other brilliant idea was to tell him about my fling with the twenty two year old (if you don’t want me, someone else does). All a bit confusing and juvenile, but critical to my self-esteem!
One night Mac came over to hang out while I studied for a mid-term and fell asleep while I pondered the mysteries of soil science or some such thing. I couldn’t focus and kept peeking at him. Finally I woke him up so he could sleep at home and I could study. He was standing outside the front door, and I was inside the house with the door open. In what had to be a moment of pure nerve, I grabbed his hand, pulled him in and kissed him. I deliberately left my eyes open to see what he would do. He left his open! Yikes. Pulling away from me he said, “You’re taller than I thought you’d be.” Then he left. I walked around berating myself and wondering what that was supposed to mean.
Brace yourself, it gets goofier. The next time I see him I declare again that I am still not ready to be in a relationship. Self-preservation I’m sure. Not long after we are sitting in a very nice Italian restaurant having dinner discussing how you know whether you are ready to move on and fall in love again. Has anyone besides me realized that he and I were spending a whole lot of time together? Pretty much every free moment I had.
I pushed back my empty plate while he and I discussed sharing a dessert. Just after the waiter took our order I looked him square in the eye and said, “I know whether or not I am ready. I love you.” It got really goofy. He didn’t tell me he loved me, he just looked at me as if he didn’t hear me. I wanted to die. I don’t know what happened at the restaurant, I’m assuming he paid the bill; I died the death of total embarrassment and berated myself for once again putting myself out there and getting no results. I was certain I had just lost a very important friendship.
Much to my surprise we ended up at his house. Knowing his seduction scene well from our many conversations during his dating frenzy, soon a fire was blazing, music was playing in the background and the knots in my stomach unfurled just a touch. I came to find out that he had broken up with what’s-her-name when he found out my boyfriend and I had broken up. He had waited for me to come home. He was disappointed I hadn't called him so that we could travel together. He hadn’t reacted to my overtures because he hadn't wanted to rush through any stage of the relationship because he had waited a very long time to be with me. It turns out that while he wasn’t prepared to divorce his wife for me, he too had struggled with his feelings for me. Then the most wonderful thing happened, he told me he loved me!
Within a month we were engaged (I waited for him to ask me this time) and got married very shortly thereafter (at my insistence). Our story, unlike a Romance Novel, doesn’t end with the declaration of love and proposal. From the day I met him until the day I married him (almost six years) I saw aspects of him that still prove to me over and over that he is what I want and need. We had seen how each other handled relationships, watched each other struggle through the end of a love, talked through what we needed and how to make changes, we talked politics and religion, we had shared our dreams and hopes for the future, all without the misty cloud of a new romance enveloping us. We had been friends for a long, long time.
One of my favorite memories of our relationship is one day I was shopping in Costco, and had a full cart, and was waiting in line to pay. I looked up and saw Mac walking towards me with a big smile on his face and in my giddiness I thought, “Wow! Mac's here.” We had been married for about a year at that point.